Councilmember Sue Himmelrich was selected by a 5 – 2 vote margin to serve as Mayor for two years in a Dec. 8 City Council meeting, breaking with the previous precedent of year long terms.

The Council went through four rounds of voting to arrive at a majority, during which Himmelrich declined a one year nomination four times. Himmelrich told the Daily Press she would only accept a two year term as she believes the job requires continuity in leadership and because she needs a longer term to justify cutting back from her important work at the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

“I have been on this Council for six years and I have never sought a leadership position on this Council until this moment, because I think we are at a critical moment for Santa Monica both because of the pandemic that we all are suffering in and because of the divided nature of our community,” said Himmelrich in the Council meeting.

Councilmember Kristin McCowan was selected to serve as Mayor Pro Tempore for a two year term. McCowan declined an initial one year term nomination.

“I’m honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve as your next Mayor Pro Tem,” said McCowan. “I’m committed to continuing to work with all Santa Monicans to help our economy recover from COVID, reimagine our public safety, compassionately address our unhoused brothers and sisters, improve access to affordable housing, and bring about racial justice in our community.”

Himmelrich joined City Council in 2014 after serving for a year on the Planning Commission and was reelected in 2018. She has lived in Santa Monica for 28 years and is passionate about affordable housing, progressive social policies, and protecting vulnerable community members including seniors and front-line workers.

One of her goals as Mayor is to increase communication with her constituents and she plans on holding a Zoom meeting once a week to listen to what residents have to say.

During the Council meeting Himmelrich also spoke personally about the recent loss of her 91-year-old father and suicide of her 21-year-old nephew and expressed compassion for members of the community who are going through a hard time.

“This has changed the perspective of my entire family and the mood of my family and my approach to this job and to the pandemic,” said Himmelrich. “I really implore you to yes wear a mask, but take care of yourselves and take care of those around you. I think that is our number one job in the world.”

Kevin McKeown ended his one year term as Mayor after serving through an unusually turbulent period in the Council’s history. McKeown nominated and voted for Gleam Davis as Mayor, citing her previous experience serving as Mayor Pro Tem, but supports Himmelrich’s assumption of the role.

“Being your Mayor this year has been difficult, certainly, but a great honor. Based on the work we’ve done together, Santa Monica is poised for resurgence as the pandemic recedes and the economy recovers,” said McKeown. “Led by a new Council and a new Mayor, we will discover a reinvented Santa Monica that proves our commitment and our resilience.”